The Call to Stando

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(Ephesians 6:10-20)
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 12

The Call to Stand

(Ephesians 6:10-20)

Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: How would you characterize Paul’s instructions in Ephesians so far? Isn’t much of it about internal organization? That is how we relate to fellow family members and fellow church members? Now that we have our internal organization right, Paul turns to external challenges. Unfortunately, what is going on in the world is a war, spiritual warfare. We are called to be in that battle, so let’s dive into our study of the Bible and find out how to be good soldiers!

  1. Battle Ready
    1. Read Ephesians 6:10. Paul calls on us twice to show strength. If you were a soldier in a regular army what would you do to get stronger?
      1. Paul suggests a much different approach for us. What should we do to get stronger (We rely on God for our strength.)
        1. How would you do that? (Keep reading!)
        2. What would we not do? (Rely on our own strength.)
        3. These seem like simple questions, but ask yourself what is your first impulse when you face a problem? On who do you rely?
    2. Read Ephesians 6:11. How does Paul tell us to get stronger in God? (To put on armor supplied by God.)
      1. Notice the nature of the warfare. What should we be on the alert against? (“Schemes of the devil.”)
        1. What kind of warfare is that? (This sounds less like physical warfare than psychological warfare.)
    3. Read Ephesians 6:12. As a soldier, how important is it to be able to recognize who is and who is not the enemy? (Understanding who you are fighting is critical.)
      1. I’m currently reading an excellent book which I recommend to all, “The War on the West,” by Douglas Kear Murray. In part of the book he argues that people who have accomplished essentially nothing are attacking those who have accomplished great things. The problem, according to Murray, is that they harbor feelings of resentment and envy, rather than an attitude of gratitude. As I’m reading the book I’m thinking that Murray is missing the bigger picture - the great controversy between God and Satan. This is old fashioned coveting - which is sin. How does the understanding of the bigger picture affect our attitude in this war?
      2. Do you ever get angry with the people at the return counter of a store? Is the return policy of the store their fault? (We need to understand who should be the true aim of our battle. Paul says we are not fighting against other people.)
      3. Wait a minute. Don’t we have human agents of Satan who are fully committed to his side? (Paul’s reference to “rulers and authorities” is a reference to the organization of demons serving Satan. Although Satan has his agents among humans, Paul tells us the true battle is against Satan and his fallen angels.)
  2. Battle Tactics
    1. Read Ephesians 6:13 and look again at Ephesians 6:11. What strikes you as odd advice for a soldier? (Paul tells us to “stand.” In verse 11 he says, “stand against.” In verse 13 he says “stand firm.”)
      1. Isn’t the best defense a vigorous offense? Why not say that Christians should charge ahead in their battle with spiritual evil? (It is an arrogant idea that we can successfully attack Satan. That is why the battleground seems to be us. We need to depend on God, our armor comes from God, and our goal is to stand our spiritual ground.)
      2. How do we "take up" this armor in a practical sense? (Through prayer, studying the Word, living a righteous life, sharing the gospel, having faith, understanding and holding onto our salvation, and using Scripture.)
    2. Read Ephesians 6:14. Again, we are told to “stand.” As you think about the battle raging around you today, how important is truth? (In the battle, the lying, even at very high levels of government and medicine, is astonishing. Here is one obvious example: the claim that a man can become a woman and vice versa.)
      1. What would you say if someone told you they believed they were a cyclops and you should poke out one of their eyes?
      2. I said that they were lying. Doesn’t that assume that I know the truth? Doesn’t everyone have their own truth? (It does assume I have the truth. The truth is God’s truth - what is revealed in the Bible. There is no truth if everyone is entitled to their own.)
      3. In general I think we should be hesitant to call people liars. What is the consequence to children of the lie in this case? (The consequence of the lie is life-long harm. That is why the triumph of truth is so important.)
      4. What do you think is meant by the “breastplate of righteousness?” (This is a plate that covers the torso.)
      5. How do we make this plate “righteous.” (Recall that the armor comes from God. We need first to claim God’s righteousness. We need to desire holiness, purity, sincerity in our life. Pointing out covetousness, dishonesty, and impurity in others presents a problem if we display those sins in our life.)
    3. Read Ephesians 6:15. Have you ever tried to fight in bare feet? (You are incredibly vulnerable.)
      1. How are shoes like the “gospel of peace?” (When we have God’s truth and realize that we are on His side we have peace in spiritual battles.)
    4. Read Ephesians 6:16. This tells me that Satan’s forces throw “flaming” darts at you and me. What should we conclude from the fact that they are called “flaming?” (They are intended to inflict damage. They are intended to destroy.)
      1. How does our faith help us in these attacks? (We know we are in the right if we are following God. The great good news is that the fiery attacks fail. They are extinguished.)
      2. Notice again that this is a defensive act.
    5. Read Ephesians 6:17. How is salvation our helmet? How does it protect our head? (Our confidence in our salvation keeps us strong. Satan wants to destroy our confidence in our salvation and our relationship with our Lord who provides this armor.)
      1. Let’s consider the only offensive weapon in the list - “the sword of the Spirit.” In my translation “Spirit” is capitalized. That would signal the understanding that this is the Holy Spirit. How can Paul call the Holy Spirit “the word of God?” (This is true in at least two ways. The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible writers, like Paul (2 Peter 1:21). The Holy Spirit will also inspire you and me (John 16:13). Our offensive weapon must be carefully used. It must be used only in accord with the will of God.)
    6. Read Ephesians 6:18-19. Why does Paul emphasize prayer after discussing our armor? (Prayer is the means by which we activate and wield the armor. It's our communication line with the Commander of the heavenly armies!)
      1. Who are we praying for? (We are praying not only for ourselves, but for our fellow believers and for our leaders.)
    7. Read Ephesians 6:20. The question about whether our battle is defensive or offensive is important. How does Paul carry on his part of the battle? (He declares the gospel “boldly.” This interpretation of what he has been teaching us is revealing. Bold declarations of the truth are consistent with a defensive battle.)
    8. Friend, the central message Paul wishes to teach us is that we are in a spiritual war, but God provides us with the armor and tools to stand firm and victorious. Will you commit to daily putting on the full armor of God and standing firm in the face of spiritual battles?
  3. Next week: Waging Peace.